Executive Headteacher Matt Whitehead explains why 2018’s Bee in the City project not only celebrated Manchester, but the values and ethos of the three schools in the Trust
I am sure you all saw the colony of bees around Manchester this summer. It was a fantastic artistic celebration of the unique “buzz” of the city – and perhaps you saw our lovely contribution, aptly named Bee-longing, Bee-lieving, Bee-Coming. As a Trust it was wonderful to be part of a project that brought everyone in Manchester together; the bee has always been a symbol of Manchester, its industriousness and hard-working spirit, and since the Arena bombing it’s also come to represent our solidarity and resilience too. What our bee also highlighted was just how fruitful the collaboration between Didsbury CE Primary, West Didsbury CE Primary and St Wilfrid’s CE Primary is becoming, day by day, term by term.
We created a design for the children which meant that all ages from all three schools could work on the bee, from putting thumbprints on the wings, to painting the body and putting words on the plinth. It was wonderful to see the children collaborating together across the Trust, and tied in perfectly with our guiding ethos of Belonging, Believing, Becoming – we could talk to the children about Belonging to the City of Manchester, and how we’re stronger as part of a team and community.
In fact, the bee is only one example of how our collaborative approach across the Trust is paying real dividends. Ideas and resources are shared and lessons are planned across the schools as we frequently meet to discuss what subjects work for children and how they fit into the new curriculum. We’re able to buy in high quality consultants that a single school couldn’t afford, and subject leaders get together to share good practice. What we want to do now, after the success of the work on the bee, is ensure the children are meeting together frequently too.
This common ethos of Belonging Believing Becoming means all three schools are a family, where everyone is cherished and challenged to achieve everything they can. We’re doing very well on that front, and the progress measures at St Wilfrid’s last year were phenomenal, Didsbury CE had outstanding attainment, while West Didsbury CE now has a great Ofsted report. All of these achievements were in part due to our desire to make the children feel valued. You can find out more about the amazing sense of responsibility children at St Wilfrid’s have taken for their own education later in this magazine – it’s been incredible to see what children can achieve if they feel a staff, a school and a Trust believes in them. Or, indeed, bee-lieves!
Next article: Experiences that help children flourish